Fifteen communities across the country were honored today with the 2017 All-America City Award (AAC) for their civic engagement to help more young children from low-income families achieve grade-level reading proficiency and early school success. Research has long shown that when children read at proficient levels by third grade they are more likely to complete high school prepared for college, a career and active citizenship.

The AAC Awards were presented this year during Grade-Level Reading Week in Denver, Colorado. at the All-America City Awards Gathering hosted by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, along with the National Civic League, which created the prestigious program 68 years ago.

2017 All-America City Award Communities:

  • Springdale, AR

  • Avondale, AZ

  • Stockton-San Joaquin County, CA

  • New Britain, CT

  • Delray Beach, FL

  • Suncoast (Sarasota & Manatee Counties), FL

  • Council Bluffs, IA Des Moines, IA

  • Dubuque, IA

  • Springfield, MA

  • Kansas City, MO

  • Montgomery County-Dayton, OH

  • Lane County, OR

  • San Antonio, TX

  • Roanoke, VA

“We applaud the ’big tent’ coalitions in these award-winning communities. They put a stake in the ground around third-grade reading and made some ‘big bets’ to improve the odds for early school success,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. "Those big bets are paying off in more hopeful futures for so many vulnerable children in these communities."

“So many communities are doing a great job in using collaborative efforts to improve grade-level reading that it was hard to select this year’s award winners,” said Doug Linkhart, president of the National Civic League. “This year’s All-America Cities are engaging a diverse cross-section of residents, businesses, nonprofits and other stakeholders in the grade-level reading effort, which will help sustain their achievements over time.”

To select the 15 Award recipients, a panel of judges examined the progress reports from the 27 communities that were nominated as finalists. The 2017 AAC Award recipients are communities that:

  • Demonstrated they have moved the needle on outcomes for children from low-income families in at least two of the following community solutions areas: school readiness, school attendance, summer learning and/or grade-level reading.

  • Addressed the National Civic League’s key process criteria of civic engagement, cross- sector collaboration and inclusiveness.

  • Created a plan for sustainability and for aligning, linking, stacking and bundling proven and the most promising programs, practices and strategies.

    Data collected by the U.S. Department of Education on fourth-grade students taking reading tests has shown that a wide gap exists for children from low-income families, especially among black and Hispanic children, compared with children from more affluent, white and Asian families. The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading now has more than 300 communities nationwide that have formed local coalitions to work together with parents, schools and other groups to close this reading gap and help more children succeed in school.

    To learn more about the AAC Award criteria and to view profiles for each AAC Award recipient, visit

Sponsors of Grade-Level Reading Week and the All-America City Awards include:

Buell Foundation
BuildStrong Education
David and Laura Merage Foundation
DaVita Inc.
Delta Dental
Doris and Victor Day Foundation
Gary Community Investments Greenberg Traurig
Jacobs Family Foundation
J. F Maddox Foundation
Kaiser Permanente of Colorado
About the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
Kenneth Rainin Foundation
LENA Foundation
The Anschutz Foundation
The Ben and Lucy Ana Walton Donor-Advised Fund at The Denver Foundation
The Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation 
The Patterson Foundation
Rose Community Foundation
Southwest Airlines – the official airline of the All-America City Award 
UPS Foundation
Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
W.K. Kellogg Foundation 


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Ernestine Benedict, Chief Communications Officer

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